Solomon Islands National University Students arrested over illegal protest march

FRUSTRATED Solomon Islands National University (SINU) students who say they’ve had enough of government “lies” took it to the streets on Thursday to demand payment of their allowances.

But their protest march from Kukum to the Ministry of Education was abruptly stopped at the Honiara City Council road when police intervened and arrested three of the students.

The students made a decision to boycott classes on Wednesday during their meeting at the Panatina Pavilion.

However, they decided to take a step further to march to the ministry to express their frustration at the delay in the payment of their allowances, which they said badly affected their studies.

Secretary of the Students Association, Buddley Tauto told the Solomon Star ahead of yesterday’s march they’ll continue to boycott classes until their allowances are paid.

“We’ve had enough of the government’s continuing unfulfilled promises so we decided not to attend classes in protest,” he said.

Police intervened because the students failed to get permission to stage their march.

But students spoken to yesterday said their patience had boiled over and they decided to protest to let the government know.

“Our march here is simply to get the attention of the government to attend to our situation.

“The government must know we’ve suffered enough. If the government can easy fund these regular expensive overseas trips for the prime minister and his large delegations to travel, why not it do the same for our allowances?” one student asked.

The students say they took action yesterday because:
The government promised to reply to their request letter to pay their allowances on the 18th of last month (September). However it has now been three weeks since that date and nothing has yet been paid.

The National Training Unit (NTU) director, Selu Maezama, visited the school on the 5th of October and also assured students that their allowances are on the way, thus calming down student frustrations over the issue in the past two weeks. However that also has yet to be fulfilled.

The students are now in week seven and have three more weeks before the academic year lapses, still students have no money to pay for course materials, stationary, bus fares, rental for accommodation especially for students who could not be accommodated at the school due to lack of spaces. All this could not be addressed due to the delay in their allowances.

Most of the School of Education and Humanities (SOEH) students have no money to pay for the 25% percent tuition fee required. This is dually affecting students both physically, mentally and academically.
Director of National Training Unit (NTU) Selu Maezama said the issue is not a NTU matter but the government.

“We’ve forwarded all the papers and requirements to the Ministry of Finance for the payment of the allowances,” he told the Solomon Star on Wednesday.

“The matter is now with the ministry of finance, not NTU,” he said.

The ministry of finance said the person responsible for allowance issue is currently on tour to Gizo.

A spokesman for SINU management said the protest march was an initiative of the students, not the university.

Solomon Star

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